Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The love you found in me.

There's a black crow sitting across from me;
his wiry legs are crossed
And he's dangling my keys he even fakes a toss
Whatever could it be
That has brought me to this loss?

I'm not good with numbers but there is somehow a six feet, eight inch hole in my heart and chest cavity and it's shaped like Taige Smith.

He came into my life when he asked Erin to unlock the front door to Centro before a dinner shift to let me into the building. I was standing on the sidewalk outside, completely fed up with my day job and armed with my restaurant resume. We sat across from one another at table #83 for twenty minutes. He pretended to look over my references but what we really talked about was music, Napoleon Dynamite, our favorite places to eat in Boulder, and how we both attended the University of Hawaii during the same years. At the end of this "interview," he gave me the fiercest hand shake and told me he just needed to make a couple of phone calls. An hour later he called to offer me a serving job.

Taige was my manager at first but quickly became one of my closest friends. When you talked to him, you were fully heard. He wouldn't break eye contact for a second, making you feel like the only person in the entire world. After the sad and bitter end of my relationship with my ex-boyfriend, he pulled me out of my own personal darkness over and over with his infamous hugs, with coin style margaritas, with laughter and prodding and tough love. When I sprained and fractured my foot, he immediately called around to cover all of my shifts and called and texted me regular reminders to keep it elevated and iced. He's responsible for the words "Clare Bear" on all of my receipts for customers, though he only called me "Bear" or "the slow one." We'd make one another laugh until our cheeks hurt. He had the best, throw-your-head-back laugh. We e-mailed one another .mp3's and links to download different albums because we loved the same music. He introduced me to some of my favorite bands.

On my 26th birthday he demanded that I join him on the West End rooftop with Travis, Paige, and Cristiano for tall PBRs and shots. We laughed at Kittens Inspired by Kittens on Youtube (on his iPhone) until we had tears in our eyes. Besides dinner with the family, I hadn't had any solid plans for that evening. Because of Taige, it turned out to be one of my best birthdays ever.

During the summer we went to the lake by Wesley's house. We drank cheap champagne out of cups and put our feet in the water. We sat on the dock with our friends and sang the theme song from Dawson's Creek. We rented busses to fill with friends and danced at shows. We shared little bowls of enchilada sauce and rice with chips when we were too tired to order anything else at the end of an evening.

Taige taught me what it meant to really love food, how to pair it with wine, how to talk to people in a way that made them feel welcomed and at home-- both at work and outside of Centro. He taught me what it meant to be passionate about my surroundings. Over the past few months he had been assessing and filtering out the boys that were unworthy of my affection, calling them "dirty birds."

This past summer, he interviewed a potential candidate for the part time manager position. They sat on the patio with coffee. Travis and I were setting up for the brunch shift and observing Taige's closed off body language-- legs crossed, leaning back, one hand over his mouth. It was a rare pose for him. Even though we could only hear snippets of the conversation, we could easily tell that the guy wouldn't be considered. When the man left that morning, Taige told us how important it was to him to find someone who truly grasped what we are all about-- great people, amazing food, excellent service, a strong and unconditional sense of family. I've worked in a dozen restaurants in my young life and put myself through college waiting tables. That said, never have I ever worked for a person whom I believed in so completely and entirely.

What will stay with me for the rest of my life is this: if you and one other person have Taige in common, you don't need anything else in order to be family. He was and will be the glue for so many people that would have never given one another the time of day under ordinary circumstances. I will strive to be that kind of person, to be that open to the world, to tie other beautiful lives together. My dream is to be half as courageous with my heart as he was. Knowing him will continue to be one of my biggest honors.
I love you, Taige. Then, now, forever. Rest in peace.


Anonymous said...

It is better to have loved and LOST than to never have LOVED at all. You are a good little bear. I am glad you had Taige. We all need one. Just be yourself, tears and all. I cry with you. I am so sorry your world shrunk. REST IN PEACE, Taige and thank you for holding my daughter so confidently. I miss you, too.

ekernsy said...

i am so glad that i opened that door. you are so special. Taige knew it from 1 glance!!!